“Build back better”: Business for Nature’s Plea to Reverse Nature Loss

Business for Nature held their major global leadership event urging people to join their ‘Call to Action’ in reversing nature loss and building back better from the effects of COVID-19.

The first major global leadership event to discuss reversing nature loss was held on Monday 15th June 2020, hosted by Paul Polman, co-founder of IMAGINE, and Tian Wei, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and news anchor. Held by Business for Nature, the event was a ‘Call to Action’ to reverse nature loss, telling all in attendance that “nature is everyone’s business”.

Through inspiring and insightful speakers, the event showed how integrating business and sustainability will encourage economic growth, whilst reversing the impact of nature loss. The event encouraged companies and experts alike to “build back better” from the effects of COVID-19. The speakers urged everyone to learn from their mistakes highlighted by the coronavirus crisis, whilst making this decade the ‘decade of action’. 

As cited in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, this next decade is the ‘decade of action’ in terms of tackling climate change. Business for Nature’s event echoes this goal and through the use of a collective voice and action aims to grab the attention of governments to implement policies to tackle nature loss. Host Paul Polman’s inspiring speech showed the importance of nature in policymaking, saying: “we need to get nature-based solutions higher on the agenda. We need to give it more priority than it gets today”.

Business for Nature’s passionate event answered two fundamental questions; what must we learn from COVID-19 to build back better and how are businesses showing leadership on nature? The answers to these questions emphasized the gravity of nature in business, inspiring others to implement nature-focused goals in their own companies. 

Building back better from COVID-19

Starting with key talks from experts, the event reflected on the current health crisis and lessons learnt that should be applied in the context of the planetary crisis of climate change and the loss of nature. Each expert answered the question; what must we learn from COVID-19 to build back better?

One key theme which ran through many of the talks in the event is the importance of connectedness and togetherness in terms of building back better from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Co-Chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and Special Envoy to Mobilize International Economic Support for Continental Fight Against COVID-19, said in her speech: 

“As we build back better we must solve these problems together. That is a big lesson. All of us, whether we are government, business or private sector, civil society we have to solve them together.”

Okonjo-Iweala’s address to those attending urged people to understand the interconnectivity of natural resources, and showed how “we cannot solve the problems of the world in an isolated fashion”. Reinforcing the idea of connectedness, Okonjo-Iweala’s inspiring voice emphasized the importance of coming together to “build back better”.

Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa stated: “the overwhelming lesson from COVID-19 is that we must build a cleaner, safer, healthier, more sustainable, more resilient and more climate-friendly future” and hopes “we have the will of all people to overcome this crisis”.

Espinosa’s speech, like Okonjo-Iweala’s, expressed the need for collective action, something which was passionately discussed by many of the experts who spoke at the event. 

Not only did the event push the importance of connectedness and a collective voice, Joaquim Levy, Fellow of Steyer Taylor Institute at Stanford University and Former Minister of Finance of Brazil, also highlighted the need for the private sector to integrate nature into all its decision making to “build back better” from the effects of COVID-19.

Levy stated: “investors are increasingly saying that it is all about understanding the facts that these changes will have on business,” encouraging business owners to invest in nature as part of a green recovery.

The businesses: what are they doing?

Following on from talks from inspiring experts in the field, Business for Nature’s event moved the focus on to how businesses show leadership on nature and how they are acting to protect, restore and sustainably use nature. The talks emphasized the importance of integrating nature protection and sustainability into businesses and how this can strengthen business resilience.

One of the businesses which expertly set out their green recovery was the strategic investment company, Sintesa Group. Their CEO, Shinta W. Kamdani, shared their vision to be sustainable throughout their four pillars, property, energy, industrial and consumer products.  

Kamdani outlined their green recovery plan ‘Sintesa Earth’ which is the company’s way of building and strengthening resilience as a way of battling the COVID-19 impact on business through green recovery. Kamdani stated: “through this program, we are focusing on building sustainability within our products, supply chain and operation. In achieving this we will want to build a sustainable business ecosystem through our business portfolio”.

To urge people to join the movement, the event also heard from leading CEO Alan Jope from Unilever. On the very same day as the event, Unilever announced this new set of integrated and environmental commitments to fight the climate crisis, to protect and regenerate nature. Jope set out the companies five-point plan to help the effects of COVID-19 and reverse nature loss.

Jope set out this plan after reinforcing the importance of Business for Nature’s ‘Call to Action’, stating: “this important ‘Call to Action’ is based on the best science we have. We are relying on science to us through this pandemic and we must listen to the science around climate change and nature loss as well”. 

Creating a collective voice

The event had an overwhelmingly passionate message from all involved, showing the importance of Business for Nature’s call to action in creating a collective voice to implement changes concerning nature loss and climate change.

Host Paul Polman, addressed those in attendance, urging them to sign up and be part of this collective voice, saying “we are launching the Business for Nature ‘Call to Action’ for companies to be part of a broader business voice calling for collective action and for more political ambition on nature”. 

This ‘Call for Action’ is imperative as Polman says, “healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature” adding that this is a “powerful declaration that needs all of your [businesses in attendance] support”.

Businesses can sign up to Business for Nature’s ‘Call to Action’ before the 30th July 2020 to join other business across the world who too are calling for ambitious and collective action for nature.

To sign up to the ‘Call to Action’, click here.

Catherine Gray

Catherine Gray is a Senior Writer at CleanTech News, eager to be part of the important discussion around clean technological advances, promoting and celebrating the things that can be achieved. Catherine is particularly interested in how writing can have an impact on people’s lives and hopes to make her own mark in the CleanTech community through championing new innovative technologies. With huge admiration for companies and individuals with the dedication to make positive advances towards a carbon net-zero future and an advocate for sustainably in day to day life, Catherine looks forward to being actively involved in the CleanTech community.